For the fishing industry, one of the main engines of the Far Eastern economy, 2021 turned out to be a difficult year. Several factors played a role at once, including the continued implementation of the investment quota system and the change in the export structure caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The financial results of 2021 will soon be summed up by Rosstat and the tax service, but we can already talk about general trends and tasks for the new year.
The head of the All-Russian Association of Fisheries Enterprises, Entrepreneurs and Exporters (VARPE) German Zverev describes 2021 as “the growing unevenness of the financial condition of different segments of the industry.”
– It is no longer possible to use a single indicator “industry profitability” or “industry profit”. Because the industry, consisting of salmon, pollock, crab, cod segments, if we talk about the sea, as well as from aquaculture, processing, lives with different financial activity, he explains, citing the following data: the total revenue of the fishery complex for 9 months of 2021 decreased by 22 percent – from 547 to 428 billion rubles. The most significant decline occurred in the marine fisheries sector. At the same time, profitability for three quarters increased by almost 50 percent, and its most serious growth in 2020 occurred in the III-IV quarters (it is expected that in 2021 it will be the same), that is, at the time when salmon and crab fishing season …
These areas have high profitability and profitability, much lower indicators in the pollock segment and the segment of the Pacific pelagic (ivasi sardine, mackerel).
– Financial kaleidoscopicity, from my point of view, will grow, and this circumstance is important to take into account when considering the conditions of the second stage of investment quotas. It is necessary to build approaches in relation to the financial indicators of each entity, otherwise there is a risk of making wrong management decisions, – the head of VARPE believes.
When to start the second stage
The second stage of implementation of investment quotas is currently the most sensitive topic for the fishing community. The fishermen, without challenging it, offer to carefully approach the details, especially since during the first difficulties arose, in particular, delays in the construction of ships.
“We believe that the second stage of investment quotas should be launched after the construction of all vessels, that is, in fact, after the end of the first stage,” says Georgy Martynov, president of the Association of Fisheries Enterprises (ARPP) of Primorye.
Fishermen, without challenging the mechanism of investment quotas, propose to carefully approach the details, especially since difficulties arose during the first stage of its implementation.
Before the start of the second stage, the fishermen should have figures proving the effectiveness of the first stage, and calculations confirming the effectiveness of the second. In addition, a long-term scientific forecast of the state of aquatic biological resources in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Russian Federation and on the continental shelf is needed so that fishermen do not find themselves in a situation where quotas are not provided with a resource.
There are other questions to the new bill. So, it provides for the withdrawal of the remaining 50 percent of the crab from the TAC and putting them up for auction. According to Georgy Martynov, holding new auctions will put the majority of current users of quotas in discriminatory conditions. If the lots are formed, as was done in 2019-2020, from 1000 tons, then most fishermen will not be able to purchase or develop such volumes. The total cost of individual lots exceeded 6.5 billion rubles, in addition, the winner was obliged to build a ship worth at least 1.5 billion.
According to ARPP, out of 62 crab mining enterprises in 2021, 41 users had quotas in the total volume of less than 500 tons, 22 – less than 100 tons, and only 12 – more than 1000 tons. Most of them do not have the necessary creditworthiness to take out loans to buy a new batch of quotas.
– It should be noted that a number of companies participating in the implementation of investment projects have quotas for crabs – the main means of generating income and repaying borrowed funds. The zeroing of quotas poses a real threat to such a business, says Martynov, noting that it is generally necessary to start the second stage of investment quotas for crab from 2034, when the agreements concluded with users on assigning them “industrial quotas” for this object will end. Meanwhile, according to the current version of the bill, it is planned to launch the second stage of investment quotas for the construction of the fleet and new auctions in 2023.
What science will say
Fishermen also have concerns about what and where they will fish. Science provides this information. And in 2022, German Zverev emphasizes, the priority of the Far East is determined in the program of scientific research, and work will go not only in the EEZ of the Russian Federation, but also outside of it. The concern is that the funds for the provision of fisheries science from the jurisdiction of the Federal Agency for Fishery will be transferred to the Ministry of Education and Science and it will be financed under the new state program “Scientific and Technical Development of the Russian Federation.”
Not only representatives of fishing associations are worried about this, but also Rosrybolovstvo. The head of the department, Ilya Shestakov, in December at the Far Eastern Scientific and Fishery Council, noted that in this case, every year it will be more and more difficult to maintain the level of research achieved recently.
– In 2022, research is still planned for us, but I’m afraid the irreparable will happen in 2023 – people who do not understand anything about fishery resources will decide, and we will prove what we need and why, – he noted.